Tag Archives: Brandon Laird

NPB wrap 5-7-21

Matching tops and bottoms

Friday was a night for both leagues’ last-place clubs to make statements in home games against their league’s leaders as the Pacific League’s Rakuten Eagles pulled into Sapporo Dome against a Nippon Ham Fighters team that hadn’t played since Saturday—when the club became classified as a coronavirus cluster.

In Yokohama, the DeNA BayStars, who struggled out of the gate this season under new manager Daisuke Miura welcoming the Hanshin Tigers, who have dominated the early going in the Central League.

Fighters 6, Eagles 1

At Sapporo Dome, Drew VerHagen (1-2) allowed a run over five innings while striking out nine, while Nippon Ham utility man Kenshi Sugiya homered to open the scoring against Hideaki Wakui (4-1) and then drove in a fifth-inning insurance run with a suicide squeeze

Wakui surrendered all six runs on eight hits and a walk over six innings.

Marines 7, Buffaloes 5

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, both starting pitchers took their lumps, with Lotte’s Ayumu Ishikawa (2-1) surrendering four runs over seven only to be outdone by Orix’s Taisuke Yamaoka (1-3), who gave up five over five. Seiya Inoue made it 5-0 Marines in the fourth with a three-run home run, his first of the season. Brandon Laird added a two-run double for the Marines.

All five Buffaloes’ runs came via the home run, a three-run shot in the fifth by rookie Ryo Ota and two solo homers by Yutaro Sugimoto, who has six on the year.

Hawks 2, Lions 2

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Seibu tied it on solo homers by Hotaka Yamakawa and Takumi Kuriyama. It was the second for each of the veterans who have spent most of the season rehabbing.

Yamakawa, a two-time PL home run champ, was in his first game back since he both homered and hurt his left hamstring on March 30. Kuriyama was hurt on Opening Day and wasn’t reactivated until April 20.

Hawks right-hander Shuta Ishikawa allowed two runs over eight innings on four hits and a walk while striking out eight. Seibu’s Kona Takahashi gave up two runs, one earned, over seven innings. Kaima Taira pitched out of trouble in the Hawks’ eighth. After SoftBank southpaw Livan Moinelo retired the Lions in the ninth, Reed Garret, back from taking a shot off the knee on Tuesday, did the same in the home half to seal the tie.

Swallows 6, Giants 4

At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri ace Tomoyuki Sugano was pulled for a pinch-hitter after four sparkling innings with a 3-0 lead, only for lefty setup man Kota Nakagawa to surrender four Yakult runs in the eighth.

After the game, the Giants revealed that Sugano left the game due to discomfort in his right elbow, which was not at all apparent from his pitching, which appeared — at least in the first inning — as precise and effortless as I think I’ve ever seen from anyone.

Hayato Sakamoto and Zelous Wheeler hit back-to-back one-out homers off Albert Suarez in the first. The pair reached base in the third to set up a Kazuma Okamoto sacrifice fly.

Norichika Aoki doubled and scored on Yasutaka Shiomi’s pinch-hit single off Ryoma Nogami. Shiomi homered off Nakagawa with one out in the eighth. A walk and four straight two-out singles put the visitors in charge. Sakamoto lined a first-pitch fastball down the pipe from Scott McGough over the wall in center for his seventh home run, but the right-hander struck out three to keep the hosts from tying it.

Domingo Santana opened the Swallows’ ninth with his fourth home run.

Giants-Swallows highlights

BayStars 12, Tigers 6

At Yokohama Stadium, Hanshin’s Chen Wei-Yin cruised through three innings but blew a 2-0 lead when DeNA chased him with one out in the BayStars’ four-run fourth. But after the Tigers came back to tie it 6-6 on Jefry Marte’s seventh-inning RBI single, Tyler Austin led off the BayStars’ seventh with his fifth home run in 22 games this season.

The Tigers came back from a 6-2 deficit on Yoshio Itoi’s first homer, a solo shot off Edwin Escobar, and three runs off new import Kevin Shackelford, but a pair of relievers combined to strand two runners and the BayStars blew out the Tigers’ bullpen. Neftali Soto just missed a fourth-inning grand slam and had to settle for a bases-loaded RBI single on a ball that hit high off the wall in right. He walked, singled three times, scored twice, and drove in two. Toshiro Miyazaki also had three hits, scored twice, and drove in three.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Fighters vs Eagles: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Naoyuki Uwasawa (2-2, 3.99) vs Masahiro Tanaka (2-1, 2.12)

Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Manabu Mima (2-0, 3.94) vs Daiki Tajima (1-1, 2.97)

Hawks vs Lions: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Nick Martinez (1-0, 0.00) vs Wataru Matsumoto (1-3, 4.18)

Central League

BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Fernando Romero (-) vs Masashi Ito (2-0, 1.71)

Dragons vs Carp: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Koji Fukutani (1-2, 4.18) vs Allen Kuri (3-3, 3.23)

Active roster moves 5/7/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/17

Central League

Activated

TigersIF62Kai Ueda
SwallowsC33Soma Uchiyama

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP44Kaito Yoza
LionsIF3Hotaka Yamakawa
LionsOF9Fumikazu Kimura
FightersC64Yua Tamiya
FightersIF70Junnosuke Imai
FightersIF93Ryunosuke Higuchi
FightersOF4Yuya Taniguchi
FightersOF50Ryota Isobata

Dectivated

LionsP15Tetsu Miyagawa

NPB wrap 5-2-21

More Fighters games postponed

NPB announced Sunday that in addition to that day’s canceled game at Sapporo Dome against the Seibu Lions, the virus-hit Nippon Ham Fighters, with 10 first-team infections, have ceased baseball activities until cleared fit by local health authorities.

Their Pacific League series against the Lotte Marines in Chiba from Monday to Wednesday have been postponed with further postponements likely.

Sato cleans up

Tigers 7, Carp 3

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin rookie Teruaki Sato batted fourth, which was salivation material to begin with before he hit a game-changing grand slam. His homer turned a mediocre start from Joe Gunkel (5-0) into a winning effort. Gunkel started the season with four wipe-out starts, but has been more ordinary since, allowing three runs over five innings on Saturday.

Hiroshima’s Yusuke Nomura (0-3) allowed five runs in four-plus innings, leaving after Sato took him deep in the fifth.

Hanshin leadoff man Koji Chikamoto and No. 3 hitter Jefry Marte each reached base five times. Chikamoto stole two bases and scored three runs, while Marte scored one and drove in one.

BayStars 10, Swallows 2

At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA’s Tyler Austin homered off the scoreboard, singled twice walked and scored three runs to help power the BayStars. The home run was his fourth and his third in four days. Neftali Soto doubled in a run in DeNA’s six-run seventh.

Southpaw Edwin Escobar (1-0) struck out two in a 1-2-3 sixth to earn the win and Kevin Shackelford worked a perfect eighth for the BayStars, while Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-1) allowed four runs, one earned, over five-plus innings and took the loss.

Eagles 6, Marines 5

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, the marquee pitching matchup between first-year left-handers was interrupted by rain and turned into a slug fest, that was decided when leadoff man Takashi Ogino slammed a fastball off closer Yuki Matsui (0-1) to break a ninth-inning tie.

Rakuten’s Ryosuke Tatsumi dealt the first big blow, capping a three-run fourth off Shota Suzuki with his sixth home run. Eagles starter Takahisa Hayakawa threw a high straight fastball to Brandon Laird, whose third homer of the year, a three-run shot in the sixth made it a 5-4 game. The Eagles tied it against Frank Herrmann in the seventh with the help of an error.

The game was notable for balls getting stuck in odd places. The Marines opened the scoring after a drive from Hisanori Yasuda got stuck between the padding atop the left field wall and the screen atop it. Another stuck ball, in Rakuten catcher Hikaru Ota’s mask in the ninth, allowed a runner on base to advance.

Buffaloes 5, Hawks 4

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix outslugged SoftBank thanks to two-run homers by Steven Moya, his third, and Yuma Mune, his second, and a solo shot by Torai Fushimi, his first. Sachiya Yamasaki (1-3) allowed two runs in six-plus innings.

Yurisbel Gracial hit his fifth homer of the year for the Hawks, a two-run shot in the eighth, that made it a one-run game.

Pacific League

Starting pitchers

Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Matt Dermody (-) vs Hiroya Miyagi (2-0, 1.26)

Hawks vs Eagles: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Akira Niho (-) vs Ryota Takinaka (1-2, 7.90)

Central League

Dragons vs BayStars: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kodai Umetsu (-) vs Michael Peoples (-)

Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Masato Morishita (3-2, 1.80) vs Seishu Hatake (2-1, 4.95)

Active roster moves 5/2/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/12. Players marked with an asterisk are coronavirus activations and deactivations, meaning they can be recalled as soon as they are cleared even before 10 days pass.

Central League

Activated

None

Dectivated

SwallowsP14Hirotoshi Takanashi

Pacific League

Activated

BuffaloesP58Kazuyuki Kaneda
BuffaloesOF69Stefen Romero

Dectivated

LionsP40Ichiro Tamura
LionsP45Keisuke Honda
FightersC60Takuya Kori
FightersIF53Ronny Rodriguez*
FightersIF91Yuto Takahama*
BuffaloesP63Soichiro Yamazaki
BuffaloesIF36Tatsuya Yamaashi

NPB wrap 4-18-21

Tigers’ Gunkel improves to 4-0

Tigers 10, Swallows 7

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin’s Joe Gunkel (4-0) allowed a run over six innings while he struck out six and singled to lead off the Tigers’ five-run third inning that chased Yakult’s Yasuhiro Ogawa (1-1). The Tigers’ win was their seventh straight.

Ogawa surrendered three straight no-out singles in the first but allowed only one run and worked a 1-2-3 second but couldn’t retire another batter. Kento Itohara doubled home Gunkel and leadoff man Koji Chikamoto. Jefry Marte, who hit a two-run homer in the fourth, walked and three more RBI singles appeared to put the game on ice.

Gunkel left after throwing 92 pitches, allowing the bullpen to make a mess of things. Tetsuto Yamada’s fifth home run, a three-run shot in the seventh, made it an 8-5 game. With a three-run ninth-inning lead, the Tigers called on their closer, Robert Suarez, who struck out two of the three batters he faced to notch his fifth save.

Carp 4, Dragons 2

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Kevin Cron returned to duty for the Hiroshima Carp for the first time since April 3, and singled, doubled, walked and drove in three runs to beat Chunichi.

Rookie Carp lefty Koya Takahashi worked five impressive innings, only for the Carp bullpen to blow a 2-1 lead in the sixth. Setup man Daisuke Sobue (0-2) who did yeoman work as the closer prior to Raidel Martinez’s arrival, loaded the bases in the eight with two walks and a single before Cron doubled in two runs.

Hiroshima lefty Atsuya Horie worked his seventh scoreless outing of the season to set up rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi for his sixth save.

Giants 2, BayStars 2

At Yokohama Stadium, the Yomiuri Giants got yet another strong starting pitching effort as Nobutaka Imamura allowed a run over 6-1/3 innings. The run he allowed, Neftali Soto’s first home run of the year for DeNA, trimmed the Giants’ lead to 2-1.

The BayStars scratched out the tying run in the eighth against lefty Kota Nakagawa on a hit batsman, a sacrifice, a groundout behind the runner and a Tyler Austin smash that third baseman Kazuma Okamoto couldn’t handle that was ruled an RBI infield single.

Flame-throwing Brazilian Thyago Vieira, who definitely looks more polished this season, touched 100.6 mph in a 1-2-3 ninth.

Hawks 4, Lions 4

At MetLife Dome, Seibu closer Tatsushi Masuda blew a two-run save opportunity by walking Alfredo Despaigne and surrendering Akira Nakamura’s first home run of the year before SoftBank closer Yuito Mori retired the Lions’ tail-end of the order to end the game in a nine-inning tie.

In a game without a marquee pitching matchup, the suddenly bunt-happy Lions still played for one run with a straight steal but got two to take a 2-1 first-inning lead against Yuki Matsumoto. Rookie Gakuto Wakabayashi singled, stole second, and scored on No. 2 hitter Sosuke Genda’s double.

Tomoya Mori tripled in the third on a perfectly placed high fly between right and center, but was thrown out by 10 feet at home trying to score on a fly to Yuki Yanagita in medium deep center. The Hawks tied it in the sixth. Singles by Ukyo Shuto and Yangita, who went 4-for-4 with a double, set up a run-scoring wild pitch by Seibu starter Katsunori Hirai.

With the scored tied in the seventh after Reed Garrett worked a scoreless inning of relief for Seibu, Brandon Tyson Tysinger singled, and once more the Lions went for one run and got two. A sacrifice and back-to-back doubles gave manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji more than he bargained for.

Kaima Taira worked around a one-out Yanagita double in the eighth, but Masuda walked Alfredo Despaigne and hung a first-pitch slider that Nakamura pulled for his first home run.

Eagles 4, Fighters 1

At Tokyo Dome, Rakuten rookie Takahisa Hayakawa (2-2) struck out seven without a walk while allowing a run over eight innings in a win over another Nippon Ham short-starter tag-team match.

Lefty Robbie Erlin allowed a run over two innings in his Japan debut. Kensuke Kondo gave the newcomer the lead with a first-inning homer before he gave it back in the second. Daichi Suzuki singled and scored on a sac fly after the visitors loaded the bases with no outs. Hideto Asamura scored the first of his two runs in the third off Chihiro Kaneko (0-1) on a walk, a wild pitch and an Eigoro Mogi single. Mogi, however, was thrown out trying to steal right before Daichi Suzuki tripled.

Suzuki also had an RBI single while rookie Fumiya Kurokawa doubled in another run. Lefty Yuki Matsui retired the side in order in the ninth for his fifth save.

Marines 3, Buffaloes 2

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Lotte’s Leonys Martin doubled in one run, and drew a bases-loaded ninth-inning walk off Tyler Higgins (0-1) to push across the go-ahead run against the Orix Buffaloes.

Rookie lefty Hiroya Miyagi allowed a run over 6-2/3 innings and left with a lead afterAdam Jones doubled to break a 1-1 sixth-inning tie against Marines rookie Shota Suzuki.

Higgins, the Buffaloes’ fourth pitcher, lost leadoff hitter Brandon Laird on seven pitches, before walking Koki Yamaguchi. After a sacrifice and a fly out, Higgins was one strike away from earning the save before Hiromi Oka hit a nasty bouncer into the hole at short to plate the tying run.

Higgins proved unable to find the strike zone after that, and Naoya Masuda earned his third save in the ninth.

Active roster moves 4/18/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/28

Central League

Activated

CarpP34Koya Takahashi
CarpIF10Kevin Cron
SwallowsIF5Shingo Kawabata

Dectivated

CarpIF96Alejandro Mejia

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP13Kohei Morihara
FightersP44Robbie Erlin

Dectivated

LionsP20Shota Hamaya
EaglesP22Kazuhisa Makita

NPB wrap 4-15-21

6 of one half dozen of the other

I don’t know what’s more surprising, the Yomiuri Giants starting pitchers allowing any runs this past week against the Chunichi Dragons and Hiroshima Carp, or those two teams managing to score at all.

Through their first 17 games, the Dragons are last in runs in Japan with 39, while the Carp, who have not scored for 31 consecutive innings, are 10th. The Nippon Ham Fighters have scored 45 to the Carp’s 47 but have played one less game.

Giants 5, Dragons 1

At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri lefty Yuki Takahashi (3-0) allowed his only earned run of the season in eight innings. Seiya Matsubara opened the Giants’ first with a homer off Koji Fukutani (0-1), who allowed five runs four innings. Hayato Sakamoto doubled and scored on a Takyuki Kajitani double. Matsubara singled in two runs in the second and Kajitani doubled and scored in the third and that was the ballgame.

With Rubby Da La Rosa having returned to the United States to complete his citizenship process, Brazilian flame thrower Thyago Vieira surrendered Ariel Martinez’s second hit of the game but struck out two and stranded two in the ninth.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Tigers 4, Carp 0

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin Tigers right-hander Takumi Akiyama (2-1) delivered his second straight solid start with seven innings against the Carp, who as mentioned above haven’t scored since April 10.

Yusuke Oyama cracked a two-run first-inning homer and rookie Teruaki Sato blasted his second two-run homer in two days in the fourth to account for the scoring.

Jefry Marte and Jerry Sands each singled twice and scored on the two home runs off Hiroki Tokoda (1-1), who was yanked after the fourth. Sato doubled and struck out twice in four trips to the plate.

Swallows 2, BayStars 1

At Jingu Stadium, DeNA lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi (0-3) struck out 10 over six innings, but surrendered first-inning homers to Yuhei “He’s too good to be batting second in Japan” Nakamura and cleanup hitter Munekata Murakami.

Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-0) put together a good start for Yakult, escaping one jam when he loaded the bases after two were out and surrendered just one run in the fourth. Takanashi left in the sixth with one out. Hiroki Kondo, however, survived a two-one, one-out jam to get out of the inning. Noboru Shimizu, Scott McGough and Taichi Ishiyama each delivered a scoreless inning with Ishiyama getting his fifth save.

Neftali Soto and Tyler Austin were in the starting lineup for the first time, allowing us to answer the question: Who makes room for them? Speedy left-handed hitter Taiki Sekine was bumped into center, where he’ll likely platoon with Masayuki Kuwahara, so Austin could start in right. Rookie Shugo Maki, who’s been tearing up the league, surrendered first base to Soto and moved to second, where he played a lot in the spring.

Hawks 4, Buffaloes 3

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Kenta Imamiya made a terrific play to end a fortunate Orix Buffaloes’ three-run fifth-inning rally of Shota Takeda (1-1) who has done well this season pitching against the Pacific League’s two worst clubs.

The Hawks came back in the bottom of the fifth against Hirotoshi Masui (1-2), who had pitched well twice this season and beat SoftBank on March 31. In contrast to the Buffaloes’ string of scratch hits, the Hawks stung the ball in their four-run rally, culminating in a two-run Ryoya Kurihara double when he put a good swing on a 1-2 pitch.

After the game, Kurihara said Hawks head coach Hiroki Kokubo told him to not sweat batting cleanup, which may or may not have been a thing with Kurihara, but definitely is with the media, who treat batting fourth with the same idiotic solemnity they do batting practice home runs in spring training.

Takeda left after five and without right-handed closer Yuito Mori–expected to miss a handful of games while they figure out what’s what what with his swollen left elbow—lefty Livan Moinelo gave the Buffaloes hope with two one-out singles before crushing those dreams and notching his first save.

Marines 7, Eagles 3

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Lotte Marines right-hander Daiki Iwashita (2-1) delivered his third solid start despite the four walks. He left the bases loaded in the first and finished with five scoreless innings but now has has 11 walks in 17 innings.

Rakuten starter Ryota Takinaka (1-2), who was overrun and taken prisoner by Marines on April 1, fell somewhere between that outing and his sterling April 8 start against Seibu, allowing two runs over five innings. Shogo Nakamura walked and scored the first of his two runs when Brandon Laird broke the ice with a fourth-inning sac fly. Yudai Fujioka then doubled in Hisanori Yasuda and it was 2-0 Marines until the ninth.

Frank Herrmann and Yuki Karakawa worked scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth for Lotte before the visitors crushed out five runs in the top of the ninth on a three-run Leonys Martin double and a two-run Laird single. That made it 7-0 to all but ensure the Eagles wouldn’t play their fourth tie in six games.

Starting pitchers

Friday will see Drew VerHagen make his season debut for the Fighters against the Eagles’ Hideaki Wakui at Tokyo Dome, while a pair of Opening Day starters will go at it at MetLife Dome as the Seibu Lions send Kona Takahashi against the SoftBank Hawks’ Shuta Ishikawa.

In the Central League, Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano will see if he can keep their streak of superb starts going against the BayStars in Yokohama. At Koshien Stadium, Shintaro Fujinami will go for his second straight win against Masanori Ishikawa, who will make his season debut for the Yakult Swallows against the Hanshin Tigers, with both clubs having swept their weekday series.

Pacific League

Fighters vs Eagles: Tokyo Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Drew VerHagen (-) vs Hideaki Wakui (2-0, 1.23)

Lions vs Hawks: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Kona Takahashi (2-0, 3.80) vs Shuta Ishikawa (1-1, 3.60)

Buffaloes vs Marines: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Taisuke Yamaoka (0-2, 3.94) vs Kota Futaki (1-1, 2.84)

Central League

BayStars vs Giants: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Yuya Sakamoto (-) vs Tomoyuki Sugano (0-1, 3.46)

Dragons vs Carp: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takahiro Matsuba (0-1, 3.27) vs Atsushi Endo (-)

Tigers vs Swallows: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shintaro Fujinami (1-0, 2.50) vs Masanori Ishikawa (-)

Active roster moves 4/15/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/25

Central League

Activated

GiantsP50Chiaki Tone

Dectivated

GiantsP12Rubby De La Rosa

Pacific League

Activated

None

Dectivated

FightersP43Ryota Hasegawa
FightersOF12Go Matsumoto

Musings 4-15-21

What people are saying

Brandon Laird and situational hitting

During Thursday’s broadcast, the analyst doing the Marines-Eagles game, former catcher Toshihiro Noguchi, relayed Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi’s concern over Brandon Laird’s hitting and the reason the skipper had him batting fifth instead of youngster Koki Yamaguchi, who dropped to sixth.

“Manager Iguchi wants Laird to have a better batting average with runners in scoring position,” Noguchi said. “He’s batting .154 with runners in scoring position but has a good OBP, over .300. Manager Iguchi’s thinking is that by batting Laird fifth, he can drive in runs and take the pressure off Yamaguchi and allow him to flourish a bit.

A .300 OBP is outstanding if you’re a pitcher and not a disaster for a catcher, but it is about what we expect from Laird. He’s a low average guy who can hit home runs and draw some walks. He’s a good teammate and he can play every day at third base. A lot of people can’t say that.

Yoshiaki Kanemura discusses the Eagles’ pitching dilemma. Let’s see, which of these five guys has to go. What a conundrum!

The great debate

The guys on Pro Yakyu News must have really been starved for topics after this Eagles-Marines game. With the news that the Eagles will get Masahiro Tanaka back on Saturday, somebody must have held a gun – or a sword since guns are pretty hard to come by in Japan – to Takagi’s head so he could ask: “Which of these pitchers will the Eagles drop from their rotation or will they go with seven?”

I try not to be mean, but that’s the equivalent of asking if I want chocolate.

You’ve got four good pitchers, Hideaki Wakui (2-0, 1.23 ERA), Takayuki Kishi (2-1, 1.29), Takahiro Norimoto (2-0, 1.86) and rookie Takahisa Hayakawa (2-2, 2.55), and two less-good pitchers who’ve looked really good at times since last year: Ryota Takinaka (1-2, 7.50) and Hayato Yuge (0-0, 10.80).

Kicking the Buffaloes while they’re down

Another topic was the defensive differences between the Hawks and Buffaloes in their series, and that was an issue, but two of the examples were a dropped grounder that didn’t cost Orix, and a wild throw after an infield single that didn’t really cost Orix. There was an error on the play only after second baseman Koji Oshiro did a good job to keep the ball IN the infield.

It’s just another example of the media deciding on an issue and then shaking the tree to see how many examples they can pile together as “evidence.”

When in doubt, ascribe it to practice

The Hawks are good, Yoshiaki Kanemura said, because they practice to be good. This “they practice better” is a more enlightened view than the typical “they’re good because they practice more.”

Catcher, batting 2nd?

Yuhei Nakamura homered for the first time in over a year, and the PYN guys are again going? “A catcher, batting second? He’s hitting .280 in the No. 2 spot.”

But just like analysts cherry pick examples to suit their arguments, a hero is a hero, and Thursday’s consensus was that if he’s hitting and still getting the job done on defense, then “Hey why not.” Kanemura said, “They tell us never bat a catcher second, that his job is to call pitches. That his role and you don’t mess with it. But he’s doing that, and I’m intrigued by this.”

NPB Wrap 4-8-21

I wrote this after learning that Japan is working on a plan to vaccinate Olympic athletes ahead of its most vulnerable senior citizens, which should come as a surprise to no one.

Japan loses its battle against the coronavirus to the Olympics.

and now back to baseball.

Yamamoto rolls over Marines

Buffaloes 5, Marines 1

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, age met youth on Thursday as 22-year-old ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (2-1) allowed a run over seven innings to earn the win for the Orix Buffaloes. Orix’s fourth pitcher, 37-yaer-old former Diamondback and Mariner Yoshihisa Hirano needed six pitches to end a ninth-inning bases-loaded jam and earn his first save in Japan since he racked up 29 in 2017 for the Buffaloes.

Lefty Fumiya Motomae (1-1) started for the Marines and allowed a run on two no-out singles in the first and a groundout. Fumiya Sugimoto hit his first homer, with red-hot Yuma Tongu on base in the second for the visitors. After Brandon Laird’s second homer, leading off the second, Tongu delivered a two-run double with no outs in the third that completed the scoring early.

Eagles 4, Lions 0

At MetLife Dome, Ryota Takinaka (1-0), the Rakuten Eagles’ sixth starter, bounced back from allowing 10 runs in his season debut by going seven innings striking out five and not allowing a runner through five as the Pacific League leaders swept the Lions in their yard.

Lions right-hander Towa Uema (0-1), a seventh-round pick in 2019, retired the first four batters he faced in his pro debut before giving up Eigoro Mogi’s fourth home run with one out in the second. He walked a pair of batters in a scoreless fifth before the Eagles knocked him out in the sixth. Ryosuke Tatsumi opened with his fourth homer.

Uema left with one out and two on after a jam shot by Hideto Asamura, and Mogi doubled over rookie left fielder Gakuto Wakabayashi on the third pitch from Bangkok-born Yasuo Sano to drive in two.

Tanaka throwing

Masahiro Tanaka, whose season debut has been delayed by a calf-muscle injury, threw 33 pitches in the MetLife Dome bullpen and appeared to be ready to return to action within a week.

Hawks 4, Fighters 2

At Sapporo Dome, Akira Nakamura’s two-run eight-inning single capped a three-run Hawks rally against veteran lefty Naoki Miyanishi (0-1 ) to complete a three-game sweep. It was Nippon Ham’s seventh straight loss.

Second-year Fighters lefty Ryusei Kawano allowed a run over five innings, while Hawks starter Shota Takeda allowed two runs on three walks and nine hits, including two RBI singles by Ryunosuke Higuchi over 5-1/3 innings. Takeda couldn’t have been helped by getting smacked by the barrel of a broken bat when he fielded a comebacker between Taishi Ota’s leadoff triple and Higuchi’s first single.

The Fighters, who stranded 11 runners through six innings, stranded three more in the seventh. Yuki Yanagita singled to open the eighth off Miyanishi, who then dropped a sharp comebacker for an infield single. After a walk loaded the bases, Alfredo Despaigne tied it with a sac fly, and Nakamura hit a flair over the drawn-in infield to put the Hawks in charge.

LIvan Moinelo, making his second appearance of the season, struck out two of the three batters he faced to raise his total to five over two innings so far.

Giants 3, Tigers 0

At Koshien Stadium, Yuki Takahashi (2-0) worked seven-plus innings, and lefty Kota Nakagawa kept two inherited runners from scoring and tying the game as Yomiuri salvaged the final game of the series.

Hayato Sakamoto made it 1-0 in the first off Takumi Akiyama (1-1) with his first home run. Fourth-inning one-out singles by Takumi Oshiro and Shinnosuke Shigenobu and a fumble by left fielder Jerry Sands set Ginjiro Sumitani up for a sac fly that made it 2-0.

Shigenobu homered in the top of the ninth and Rubby De La Rosa worked around a Jefry Marte leadoff single in the bottom of the inning with three strikeouts to notch his third save.

Akiyama struck out 10 over six innings. He gave up six hits and two walks.

Swallows 11, Carp 7

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, 19-year-old rookie Yasunobu Okugawa (1-1) allowed five runs in five innings and weathered a 54-minute rain delay to earn his first pro win as Yakult twice came from behind to beat Hiroshima.

Each team scored four runs in the first inning before the center of Tokyo was given a thunder-and-lightning show. After a scoreless second Seiya Suzuki hit the first of his two home runs, only for the Swallows to come back for two in the home half against right-hander Yuta Nakamura (0-2), who was charged with six runs over three innings.

Swallows leadoff man Kotaro Yamasaki went 4-for-5, reached on an error, homered and doubled to power the hosts’ offense, while Naomichi Nishiura drove in three runs on three RBI singles.

Okugawa, whom the Swallows signed after winning his rights in a three-way first-round draft lottery in 2019 and who only pitched two innings on the first team last season, struck out four without a walk, but gave up 10 hits.

BayStars 5, Dragons 2

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, a ninth-inning error on a hard grounder with one out and the infield in by third baseman Shuhei Takahashi allowed the go-ahead run off Dragons set-up man Daisuke Sobue (0-1) as the BayStars left Nagoya with two wins.

With the game tied 2-2 in the eighth, troubled former closer Yasuaki Yamasaki (1-1) worked recorded his first 1-2-3 inning of the season and earned the win after Sobue was tagged for three unearned runs and Kazuki Mishima recorded his second save in the ninth.

Ryosuke Hirata tripled and scored off BayStars starter Kentaro Taira in the second. Taira left after five innings as the pitcher of record after rookie Shugo Maki took veteran lefty Takahiro Matsuba deep with a man on in the sixth for his third homer. The Dragons, however, tied it straight away against 23-year-old Hiromu Ise, who gave up a Hirata leadoff single and an RBI pinch-hit double to 43-year-old Kosuke Fukudome.

Starting pitchers

Friday is ace day, ostensibly, and tomorrow will bring some interesting matchups. The Pacific League-leading Rakuten Eagles will send their Opening Day starter, Hideaki Wakui (2-0) against the SoftBank Hawks first-game pitcher, Shuta Ishikawa (1-1). The Seibu Lions’ Kona Takahashi (2-0) will go for his third victory in Chiba, and former Orix Buffaloes ace Chihiro Kaneko will start at his old home park for the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Shintaro Fujinami, the Hanshin Tigers’ surprise Opening Day starter will go for his first decision, in Yokohama, while the Hiroshima Carp will send their ace, Daichi Osera (1-0) against Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano, who reportedly hurt his knee on Opening Day.

Pacific League

Eagles vs Hawks: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hideaki Wakui (2-0, 1.29) vs Shuta Ishikawa (1-1, 4.85)

Marines vs Lions: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Kota Futaki (1-1, 3.75) vs Kona Takahashi (2-0, 2.93)

Buffaloes vs Fighters: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Taisuke Yamaoka (0-2, 6.30) vs Chihiro Kaneko (-)

Central League

BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Haruhiro Hamaguchi (0-1, 7.00) vs Shintaro Fujinami (0-0, 2.45)

Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Daichi Osera (1-0, 1.26) vs Tomoyuki Sugano (0-0, 4.50)

Viciedo out

The Chunichi Dragons deactivated cleanup hitter Dayan Viciedo on Thursday to the dreaded “lack of upper-body fitness.” Hiroshima Carp newcomer Kevin Cron is currently beginning rehab since he is suffering from that ailment’s partner in crime, “lack of lower-body fitness.”

The Orix Buffaloes have deactivated Steven Moya after he fouled a pitch off his right foot in Friday’s game against the Marines.

Active roster moves 4/8/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/18

Central League

Activated

DragonsIF55Nobumasa Fukuda
BayStarsP59Kentaro Taira
SwallowsP11Yasunobu Okugawa

Dectivated

DragonsIF66Dayan Viciedo
BayStarsP94Takamasa Kasai
SwallowsIF60Ryusei Takeoka

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP66Yuki Matsumoto
LionsP64Towa Uema
LionsOF53Aito Takeda
FightersP29Kazutomo Iguchi

Dectivated

LionsIF63Ryusei Tsunashima
BuffaloesOF1Steven Moya